C Voter Research Foundation
If the judiciary is collapsing because of a mountain of pending cases and whispered corruption, the bureaucracy is rotting because of corruption and arrogance.
Some weeks ago, I had discussed if social media and NGOs were a boon or curse for India. My conclusion was that they were both a boon and a curse. Then, in another column, I had pointed out how unacceptable delays in settling cases by the Judiciary had become a curse for ordinary Indians. This time, I am compelled to point out that there seems to be a race between the judiciary and the bureaucracy to prove who is playing a bigger role in letting India down.
This cruel but stark reality surfaced when news reports disclosed something that is becoming painfully frequent. The Enforcement Directorate raided the premises of the Mining Secretary of Jharkhand Pooja Singhal, a senior IAS officer and her chartered accountant. More than Rs 19 crores in “cash” was seized and further investigations and searched are on in many cities of India. Just imagine: Rs 19 crores in cash from the sleepy town of Ranchi. According to ED, the money is allegedly part of a much larger sum siphoned off from the MGNREGA funds meant for poor landless workers in villages of Jharkhand. To repeat, Pooja Singhal is mining secretary and her boss is Hemant Soren, chief minister of Jharkhand who also holds the mining portfolios. Incidentally, both the Election Commission of India and the Jharkhand High Court have ordered Hemant Soren to reply to serious allegations that he has allotted mines to himself!
But forget politicians. At least voters have the power tothrow them out during elections. But IAS officers are appointed by the President of India and it is extremely rare for them to be dismissed from service even if credible evidence of corruption is found against them. Pooja Singhal is not an exception. Some years ago, agencies “discovered” cash and assets worth about Rs 270 crores from a senior IAS officer couple posted in Madhya Pradesh. There are dozens of similar cases across the country. Clearly, the once famous and respected “steel frame” of India has rusted and seems rotten to the core. These egregious examples by no means indicate that all IAS officers in India are corrupt. But then, even not all politicians are corrupt. If “criminal” politicians are barred from contesting elections, why should corrupt IAS officers not be dismissed after a quick trial and all proceeds of crimerecovered from them? But then there is our wonderful judiciary where cases can go on indefinitely. The fact is: in the last decade or so, many politicians, including some former chief ministers like Lalu Yadav of Bihar, the late J. Jayalalitha of Tamil Nadu and O. P. Chauthala of Haryana have been convicted and sent to jail. This author could be wrong, but has not read any news about a top and high profile IAS officer being convicted and sent to jail.
Frankly, corruption by a section (small or big this author doesn’t know) of IAS officer is a smaller problem. The bigger problem is their arrogance which makes them think and behave like rulers and masters rather than public servants. Even worse is the disdainful and inhumane manner in which they ignore grievances of ordinary citizens. Just a few days ago, the Allahabad High Court issued a non-billable warrant against the CEO of NOIDA Ritu Maheshwari and ordered Uttar Pradesh police to produce her physically before the court. Its about a case that goes way back to 1990. The government had acquired the land of two persons and not given them any compensation. They had approached the courts and after the usual delays, the High Court had ordered the NOIDA authority to expeditiously pay compensation. The court orders were repeatedly ignored despite reminders and warnings. Look at the irony: the courts take 32 years to decide a simple, straightforward matter and then the IAS officer contemptuously ignores the court orders.
Many, many years ago, an uncle of the author was the Transport Commissioner of Odisha. Private bus services linking Bhubaneswar to Rourkela and Sambalpur had sprung up to satisfy passenger demand as the state simply did not have enough buses. But he banned the buses on pain of criminal charges and arrest against the private bus owners. When the author, who was working then in Mumbai, asked why, the uncle thundered: How dare private bus owners ferry passengers like this? Only the state can do that. The author was dumbstruck at this display of arrogance. Mind you, the uncle is the most loveable, cheerful, helpful person in real life. But something changed when he wore the hat of a senior IAS officer. This author has met numerous bureaucrats who are brilliant, understanding, thoughtful and extremely well mannered as individuals. God knows what happens when they start behaving like bureaucrats. Its almost like a mafia. Virtually all top regulatory body posts related to telecom, aviation, IT, competition and what not is the virtual monopoly of retired IAS officers; not domain experts from that field as it should be. Good for them; bad for India.
The most irritating thing about these retired bureaucrats is their tendency to write “open letters” to the Prime Minister giving “Gyaan” on every topic on the sun. Why don’t they write open letters demanding reforms in bureaucracy and making IAS officers accountable? But then, that would be hoping and asking for too much. Just as it would for IPS officers nowadays to act independent of vested political interests. More on that next week.
About the Author:
After his masters degree in economics, Sutanu Guru has been a journalist for more than 30 years in media outlets like Times of India, Economic Times, Business Today, Business World, Business India & others. Currently, he focuses more on research and writing.
This is the personal opinion of the author. The views expressed in this write up have nothing to do with those of prameyanews.com